(Photo used by permission of Pexel via Creative Commons)
The new control center after the iOS 11 update.

A few weeks ago, my mom asked me to help her with her iPhone. I was confused since she has been using Apple products for years, but once I took a look, I understood why. The menu and layout for the default applications have changed dramatically with the iOS 11 update released on Sept. 19.

In the new iOS update, under the Accessibility section, six out of seven updates were on the VoiceOver feature – the function to access the device through verbal commands. Sounds like a cool feature, but there is one problem: do people even use VoiceOver?

Of the six iOS 11 users I asked, five didn’t know this feature existed or how to use it.

Other updates include the addition of emoticons; bug fixes for photos; support for 3D Touch; bug fixes for the Mail software; improvements for enterprise-managed apps; third-party GPS compatibility; and fixes for applications on the Apple Watch.

None of these updates majorly benefits the user since they are only minor bug fixes. That means their software is pretty much perfect, right?

Unfortunately, no.

Other than new features, updates from iOS 8, 9 and 10 are pretty ordinary.

Default applications all sport rounder, larger fonts on the home screen in iOS 11.

The layout within certain applications such as Mail, App Store and Settings was changed without much notification ahead of time. Some argue that this new design is more visually appealing, but having all these new features seems to only over-complicate the phone for users.

(Photo used by permission of Flickr via Creative Commons)
The home screen on the iPhone 6S with the iOS 11 update.

For example, the App Store now opens with a main page titled “Today,” filled with different topics from Apps of the Day to articles about certain applications instead of the old “Featured” page with a variety of suggested apps  in iOS 10. The main purpose of the App Store is to help the user find apps to download, but now the App Store menu is clogged with information regarding different rankings of applications with different criteria and reviews on certain games.

The App of the Day topics are useful and help users browse the store for new, interesting apps. However, the sections titled “Apps” and “Games” already have their own charts listing popular games and applications, including different topics regarding various categories and types of apps.

The “Today” section is a new addition with the iOS 11 update, but it doesn’t really help the user browse the store.

In addition, the plethora of topics crowding the App Store’s main menu makes browsing very confusing to the user, especially for fifth-generation iPhone users and below since they have smaller screens.

Apple should change the purpose of its updates. Instead of adding new features that make the phone look more modern and add a level of sophistication, Apple should focus more on fixing the existing problems with their operating system.

For example, iOS 11 works well with the most recent Apple devices. However, for older devices such as the iPhone 5 and 6, compatibility is a major problem.

After the iOS 11 update was installed on my iPhone 6, it would occasionally lag. When I unlock the phone and immediately open an application, the device lags and the screen glitches. Additionally, when the capital “I” is typed in iOS 11, strange things happen.

“When you type in a capital I, you get a capital A with a weird symbol,” said Pragathi Vivaik when describing the glitch. Many people have discussed this issue online and at school.

Similarly, my mom experienced more severe glitches with her phone after the update; her phone freezes completely and needs to be fixed via force quitting. In addition to device compatibility, many applications are outdated and incompatible with iOS 11. Older applications, such as games and mandatory utilities like the You Dao (有道) Chinese-English dictionary, crash when I open them after the update.  

I understand that as technology evolves, Apple needs to keep up with the aesthetics of the phone operating system. However, users may prefer practicability and accessibility over slick, futuristic designs.

—By Ming Zhu

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